Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vietnamese Doppelganger/AssShakes/Cockfighting

This is a story I wrote out about four years ago and sent around to some friends. I had dug it up to post on the blog. I did make some minor corrections from the original email from spelling to proper word usage from that evening. It is all true:


I was alerted on Friday at Freddies by two sharp eyed southsiders after dining at the Vietnam Palace that my twin is working as the manager of the new Vietnamese restaurant, just north of the Asian Grocery and across from Schnuck's on Grand. Apparently he is a Vietnamese ringer for me down to the scruffy face, pants and even hat. He is also relatively tall.

So a crew of us went to eat there later on Saturday night before going to the Famous to see the Civiltones and later to go to a funky party on Nebraska.

Five of us rolled in at 9:30 and we looked around w/o a sighting of my twin. There was a large Vietnamese family just talking away and eating dinner like it was in their own home at the main table. It was very interesting. The waitress spoke very little English and was very passive. Our table was only a little dirty and was never wiped down. The menus and waters took a while to get to us even though there seemed to be plenty of staff running around and few tables for a Saturday. It was only us and the large family in the no-smoking section. It doesn't bother me really about the service, but I hope for more but understand that new restaurants, especially new immigrant restaurants will have a lot of kinks to work out. I ordered two orders of the spring rolls and another of the pork, but we only got the spring rolls. We had to swipe flatware off the other tables. We did get water. The menu looked fantastic, and the rolls that we received were exceptional. She was very timid about getting the orders, but she did take our orders which consisted pretty much by us naming off the numbers of the order.

We still had yet to see my doppelganger. I remembered that my chum's who recommended the joint also said they had a great tomato shake. This was intriguing, so I got up to grab the menu to see if they had this on their menu. They indeed did, along with pineapple, strawberry, durian, mango, jackfruit and more. I was tempted to take the recommended tomato, but I was curious about this mysterious durian. My fellow eater Erik said it is a very ugly fruit from SE Asia that tasted like ass. Hmmm. That doesn't sound very good.

The next time the waitress stopped over to check on us in her passive manner, I inquired about the shakes. I asked her for a suggestion and she pointed to the Durian. The shake that tasted like ass. Hmm. I guess I really didn't have a choice here. I come to a place like this to get the real deal, so I got to go with the Vietnamese favorite even if my friend Erik says it tastes like ass. I also order a tomato shake just in case.

At this point Katy points out my doppleganger. He was refilling our water. I nod to him and compliment him on his hat. He looked a bit confused, but I am sure the communication barrier was the only reason for that. This man indeed looked like my Vietnamese double. He was wearing those slacker looking painting pants that I wear and a chef's coat, but I don't wear a chef's coat. He had a similar cap, was relatively tall and had some more minor scruff on his face. In other words, this was one good looking Vietnamese man. I noticed that he stood in front of the kitchen after assisting the waitress and was nodding his head to these small groups of young Vietnamese men who would walk into the kitchen. They didn't look like they were on the clock. Two groups of about four passed through and then I started paying closer attention. What if this guy is really like me? Hmmmm.

So we got the ass flavored shake. We all seemed nervous about it. It was yellow. I sniffed it. It didn't smell like ass. It stunk like the water that collects on top of garbage bags when you leave it outside when it rains. We all smelled it with each one of us snapping our heads back from the pungent odor, with the exception of our friend Sara. She said it didn't smell all that bad. I drank some. It tasted even worse. It tasted like I was sipping on sugar sweetened rotting trash. Erik tried it and reeled back from the taste. Sara tried it and liked it. She said it tasted far better than it smelled. It was pretty good in fact. Erik then said it tasted like a dirty toilet. I disagreed and said it tasted like garbage juice. Then Sara said she couldn't drink it anymore. Why? She said she didn't make a connection to the ass taste, but now that I had mentioned garbage she could only think of the trash. The durian sat on the table without another sip. The tomato shake never made it to the table. Either the waitress really doesn't understand Americans or she very much does and was laughing at us. Either way it was fun.

I noticed that another crew of four arrived and my twin nodded the fellas in. I also noticed that there were about 35 iced coffees set up to serve, with the tops on them and the condensed milk at the bottom waiting for the hot coffee to be poured on top. But the restaurant was nearly empty and any sort of dinner rush was way over by the time we got there.

The food arrived. I ordered some sort of hot spiced chicken with rice. It was in red ink on the menu under the Chef's specials, a different colored ink from all the others, so I figured they were either proud of this particular dish as a Chef's special or that there was something about it where they needed to set it apart. I was drawn to this spicy flavored concoction somehow. Perhaps my double would eat this. The meal was awesome. Perfect. Fantastic, and the price was one of the cheapest on Grand. Everyone else had a pretty fantastic meal too. The service was lackluster at the Vietnam Palace, but we do become spoiled by the above and beyond excellent service up at Pho. I must recommend, but be wary of the service, the communication barrier and the garbage juice shake.

As we finished up the help or my twin didn't seem to realize when the appropriate time was to drop the check. I went up to ask for and tried to sneak a peek in the back room. I wasn't able to really tell what was up, but my doppelganger seemed to know that I knew something was going on, but he was cool with it. After all, I was his Irish-German American counterpart.

We paid up 33 bucks for five of us w/ apps and meals, plus the ass shake. I noticed that my double nodded a few more of his chums into the back. As we left, they started pulling down the blinds on us, even though more people were coming in.

I left a two dollar bill in the tip as a sign to my doppelganger. I figured I needed to make a gesture of peace to my twin before we combine our forces.

I hope to in the next week to gain the confidence of my double and get in on whatever good stuff is happening in the back. If he truly is the one and is anything like I would be if I were a Vietnamese immigrant to South city, I would be running some sort of gambling, dice game, rabbit fighting or some sort of absurd fun out of the back of my business. It is not a matter of if it is true, but more of exactly what I am doing back there.

I figured he thinks like I do, and if I can gang up with him we can rule south Saint Louis with an iron fist. We can bully around the West End and the County for sport. Together we can bring together an axis in South City.

Now I am off to seek the triumvirate of power in my trio with an exhaustive search for a Bosnian doppelganger. I am going to go back to Grbic on Meramec to see if they got any thuggish looking Bosnians with stupid hats.


PS It is all true, but I wouldn't do animal fights. Not even my twin would do this.


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